The BJP has decided to opt out of the race for the post of Mumbai Mayor on Monday hoping to mollify its former ally Shiv Sena.
"We are in equal strength in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), but we don't have the required numbers. We will not enter into an illegitimate alliance with opposing ideologies. But, in 2022, we shall win the Mumbai Mayor post on our strength and numbers," former BJP minister Ashish Shelar said today.
November 18 is the last date for filing nominations to the post of Mayor for which elections will be held on November 22, but the BJP has not yet indicated if it will support its former ally in the election.
Meanwhile, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which are engaged in finalising their alliance at the state and national levels, have decided not to field any candidate for the Mayor's post, leaving the field open for the Sena nominee to sail through.
In 2017, former allies BJP-Sena had bitterly fought the civic elections separately but later the BJP extended support to the Sena nominee educationist Vishwanath Mahadeshwar.
Interestingly, in October this year, Mr Mahadeshwar embarrassed the party when he lost the assembly elections from Bandra East constituency, the home turf of Sena President Uddhav Thackeray. He was pitted in a triangular contest against a Sena rebel Trupti Sawant and the Congress's Zeeshan Baba Siddique, who won the seat.
The richest and biggest civic body in the country, the BMC, has a total strength of 227 municipal corporators who elect a Mayor. This time, the Mayor will be elected from the Open Category.
The Sena currently has 84 municipal corporators, while the BJP has a strength of 82, and with the end of their 30-year-old alliance, the two parties are going their separate ways even in the Mayor elections in the BMC.
The NCP with strength of nine, has indicated it may contest the post of Deputy Mayor, currently held by Sena's Hemangi Worlikar, with support from Congress which has 30 municipal corporators and other parties.